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Denglisch and Germany's War of Words
February 21 is The United Nation's (UN) International Mother Language Day, held to celebrate worldwide language diversity and the right to use these languages; while globalization together with the progress of modern life is bringing about the spreading, sharing and merging of languages and their usage, and German is one of the languages still evolving.
This is generating panic in some sections of the community because of the amount of "foreign", mostly English, words and phrases that in a relatively short space of time have been brought into use in everyday German. While a few politicians insist only original German words are used in the workplace, and on official documents, and all English or "Denglisch" examples are omitted.
Meanwhile the advertising industry has also had to adjust their campaigns, to include less of the language or at least use English that is understandable and not open to misinterpretation.
The influx of Denglisch in mainstream life and advertising has been adopted and assimilated by both the young and not so young in Germany, however amongst the older generations it can cause confusion as well as a feeling of exclusion. Meanwhile many Germans speak and understand some English, with about 10 percent fluent in the language, but it is also open to misinterpretation.
Here, with a partial list of words officially banned, are a few of the many Denglisch words and phrases used as direct replacements for the original German, such as a "Saugling" or "kleinkind" now more commonly known as a baby, sandwich for "Klappstulle", while "Liebesgeschichte" is a love story, together with some of the 'new' words formed from a mixture of German and English,
"Denglisch: words and phrases, with their meanings
Bag held close to the body
Something that has been popular for a long while such as a song or a film
Cell or mobile phone
To work, to have a job
Low paying job
Vintage or classic aircraft or car
Mixed family with children from different parents
A dinner or evening suit
A few of the over 150 English words which are now in use, and that some politicians say must be replaced in the workplace and on official documents, with the original German word or phrase.
Mittagessen fuer bedeutende
Info-Brief, aktuelle Mitteilung
elektronische Post, Elektropost
gruene (umweltfreundliche) Autos
It is not likely that convenient, widely used and universally understood English words and phrases will disappear from Germany; the change has already gone too far.
For example when bumping into someone, it's just quicker to say "Sorry", with an emphasis on the "r", than "Entschuldigung," although that is still heard, just not as often.
And even "Computer Junkie" is easier to handle than "Bildschirmbraeune", literally "Screen Tan", which describes someone who spends a lot of their life in front of a computer screen.
Major German banks and most other businesses dealing world wide complete much of their trade in English, however, although time will certainly change their country's vocabulary in many ways, such a quick and thorough influx of new, and sometimes bizarre, terminology has also helped Germany's people to rediscover their own language.
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